One of the things I'm appreciating during my read through the first edition Dragon-Blooded rulebook is the way that it balances the need to create a fully-realized sub-creation with the fact that it's essentially a list of rules for a game. A whole world is there before your eyes (government, cuisine, fashion, religion, geography, etc.), yet each and every fact is presented so as to suggest a germ of an idea for a role-playing session or campaign. I constantly find myself pausing to consider how a tiny note on local folklore, the name of an eminent craftsman, or the relations between branches of the Imperial bureaucracy could be spun into a story. Sure, there's plenty of flavor text and several short stories to set the tone and provide some obvious ideas, but it's the fact that even the little details are couched in such a way as to get you straight into the game that astonishes me. As with the Exalted core book, the way that the information is deployed also provides the player with the maximum number of entry points into the world. Social Justice your thing? There are abolitionist factions among the slave-holding Dragon-blooded. Prefer political intrigue and subterfuge, just look at the assassination etiquette common among the Thousand Scales. Fancy fighting the man? How about playing a rogue officer whose legion was just disbanded? If your a fan of old westerns and wandering, hard-bitten heroes, try one of the Imperial magistrates. Playing a demi-god not your thing? There's plenty of information on the human citizens of the Blessed Isle from peasants to patricians. This balance of creativity with playability is what I remember liking so much about role-playing in The Age of Sorrows during grad school. Playing was fun, but the books were a pleasure to read on their own even if you didn't have a game running. They got the creative juices flowing in ways that were as likely to lead to a drawing or a short story as to a campaign or a character. A world was introduced to you along with a framework or rules and then you were invited to join right in helping to create and expand wherever you saw fit.
Once again, those are my thoughts for now. The reading is still going and any epiphanies will be recorded here at The Platypus of Truth.